After months of uncertainty about the state budget Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s (SMMUSD) school board adopted a $118 million budget for the 2011-2012 school year on June 30.
The district’s chief financial officer, Jan Maez, noted that the budget would mean that the district would be deficit spending by more than $3.6 million but contains $3.5 million for economic uncertainties. She also pointed out the budget the state legislature approved on June 29 contains the potential of mid-year cuts to school districts if the additional $4 billion in revenue the state expects does not materialize.
Maez also explained the implications of the signing of Assembly Bill 114 by Gov. Jerry Brown: the Los Angeles County office of education will no longer have oversight authority over school district budgets. They can no longer not approve a budget based on issues with a second or third year of a multiyear projection. In addition, districts are not to plan or set aside reserves if the $4 billion in additional state revenues does not materialize. Lastly, Maez suggested that the district develop a contingency plan should mid-year cuts become necessary, address the ongoing operating deficit of over $3.6 million per year, and develop a fiscal plan to eliminate operating deficits in the future.
Board members also unanimously approved an agreement with the City Of Santa Monica so that the district would receive an estimated $5.5 million for the 2011-2012 academic year from the November 2010 voter approved half cent sales and transactions use tax that began on April 1, 2011.
In exchange for the funding the district is permitting the City to lease and utilize facilities at Santa Monica High School (SaMoHi) including a swimming pool, play fields, courts, a gymnasium, and other facilities which are either unused or underutilized during non-school hours. This agreement will be in effect for ten years and there is an option for it to be extended for another ten years. The amount of money the district will receive starting in 2012-2013 and beyond would be one half of the transaction and use tax revenue received by the City in the previous year.
Finally, the board unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding for the civic-center joint use project. The partners in the project are the school district, the City of Santa Monica, and the redevelopment agency of the City of Santa Monica. The City and its redevelopment agency have appropriated $57 million for the project, which will be made in payments over a 30-year period.
Two key projects funded by this agreement will be the new SaMoHi south gym and the renovation of the school’s Greek Theater. These projects are expected to be completed by 2016. A more immediate project will be the replacement of the synthetic turf for the high school’s football field. This project will begin this summer and will be be completed by the time school opens in the fall.